Title Reviewed:
A Good Neighbor: The First Fifty Years of Crane

Author Reviewed:
Robert L. Reid; Thomas E. Rodgers

William W. Giffin


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 89, Issue 2, pp 151-153

Article Type:
Book Review

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A Good Neighbor: The First Fifty Years of Crane. By Robert L. Reid and Thomas E. Rodgers. (Evansville, Ind.: Historic Southern Indiana Project, University of Southern Indiana, 1991. Pp. x, 118. Map, illustrations, notes. Paperbound, $10.00, plus $2.50 postage and handling. Order from: Commanding Officer, Naval Weapons Support Center, Building 77-Rec Services, Crane, IN 47522.)

The Crane naval weapons depot, located in Martin County in southwestern Indiana, was one of several war production facilities that were built in Indiana during World War II. (The others included a poison gas plant at Newport, a gunpowder plant at Charlestown, an ordnance plant at Kingsbury, and shipyards at Evansville and Jeffersonville.) Robert L. Reid and Thomas E. Rodgers use four chapters to survey the institution's half century of history. Chapters one and two deal with the social-economic life of Martin County prior to the establishment of the Crane naval weapons depot. Chapter three concerns the depot's construction, its wartime role, and its social history during the World War II years. While covering the subject from 1945 through 1990, chapter four describes and explains how the depot became a center providing technological support for modern weaponry.

The authors hold that a "symbiotic" relationship existed between the Crane facility and its neighbors during its first fifty years. In short, the institution provided jobs in an area where employment was traditionally scarce while the people of southwestern Indiana supplied an efficient and dedicated work force. As their



title implies, the authors are sympathetic to Crane, but they examine controversial matters. For instance, the book presents the contrasting views of government officials and local people concerning land acquisition by the government during the 1930s and 1940s. The account of Crane history since World War II is uncritical.

The book contains interesting primary source material and illustrations. Each chapter offers a selection of memoirs of persons associated with the depot or the center. The "Memories" sections do not provide introductory comments placing the reminiscences in their historical contexts. The memoirs and much of the text's primary source material are derived from oral interviews conducted by the authors. Endnotes reveal that other primary sources used in the text include government documents and contemporary newspapers. The book presents a large number of appropriately illustrative, well-identified, glossy black and white photographs, but those in the final chapters are undated. The volume has a straightforward style, but it is flawed by many errors caused by inadequate editing. Nevertheless, A Good Neighbor will be welcomed by persons interested in Indiana history and in military history as well as by general readers.

WILLIAM W. GIFFIN is professor of history at Indiana State University, Terre Haute, where he teaches a course on Indiana history.

Published by theĀ Indiana University Department of History.